WRITTEN BY: OYEKUNLE LIZZY OYEBOLA
He was directly in front of me!
His eyes bored into mine so much so that I trembled greatly.
Then, he squinted as if the sight of me gave him a bad headache and I ran mad deep in me.
He shook his head.
After which he turned around to check me out while I supported my shoulders with my arms crossed as I shook from within.
“Girl!” He called out slowly, facing me again.
But what audacity did I have to answer?
He called me ‘girl’
He called me a generic name instead of the special name he called me.
The precious name he christened me!
I could only shiver and hope that all turned out well.
“I regret the day you were born to this world. I regret! Oh Lord, I regret!” He cried slowly but strongly, his lips shivering as tears ran down his face
I was shocked!
I was broken!
If wind had blown at that minute, I would have fizzled away in the wind!
Did he mean it?
He could never hurt an ant!
He could never speak aloud talkless of shout!
He was always a pride of all women!
Few weeks after we lost my mum in a motor accident, many widows and single ladies in our church came to our house to help him do this or that!
Well, he understood their schemes and since he was always particular about not hurting other people’s feelings, he couldn’t chase them away but he had and held me close to his heart!
He pulled me close and called me his wife till the affection so grew and my reaction to those women chased them all away.
Even if my dad would marry any of them, it had to be someone who would compliment him- someone who would try hard to replace my irreplaceable mother!
My peaceful dad deserved the best!
Did he just say those heavy words?
My lower lip shook in great shock as I tried to find my legs- they had gone stiff!
“Now, out of my house!” He still said calmly
I looked into his eyes till one tear, then the next dropped in quick succession down my face!
It is just a dream!…A bad dream!
“Out!” He said again, and as I locked my eyes into his, I saw such redness that described hell!
“Daddy, it is me….it’s me Tali…” I was saying, trying to hold his shoulders, to tell him to check me out well….
That I was his one and only.
His one and only in the whole wide world.
The look on his face as my hands almost touched him made me withdraw and I sighed as if I had just been saved from running into hot fire!
“Erm….” I tried to find my voice when he grabbed my neck and looked deep into my eyes scarily for the first time since I was born.
No one dared to hold me like that
There was a time back in my secondary school days, someone pulled at my cloth till I fell down and though I had told him it was over and that the matter had been settled, he still went down to school to scold the child and reported him to the school authority for further questioning.
Then, he was holding my neck till I choked?
I was heartbroken!
If he could do this to me, then I could as well go and die!
“I hate you!” He said calmly as his tears dropped on the front of my silky shirt.
“Ah!” I could only say, my heart really constipated
“You suck!” He exclaimed finally as he spat into my face.
It was unannounced!
I was not expecting it and the fluid really did reach the whole parts of my face.
It entered my eyes, my nostrils and my mouth!
It was sprinkled like water from a tiny hole in a hose!
“Out of my house!” He shouted eventually, pushed me to the door till I fell flat!
“Dad!” I screamed so painfully
My bombom had landed on a piece of nail that was in the wall and the injection was so maddening.
But he was unconcerned
“Out I say!” He screamed the more.
I cried so well as everything dawned on me really!
I had disappointed him!
I had brought only shame and shame into his perfect life!
And if I should leave his house now, I would never be able to find peace!
I had been his wife
The tears that flowed down my face could make a fountain!
My heart was bleeding raw!
If someone could wake me up that instant from the bad dream it was, I would have gifted such person a million dollar even if it meant selling all my teeth to get it!
Then, as I pulled towards him and made to touch his feet- the feet I had helped massage during the cold season, I felt his firm hands pull at my huge hair!
I screamed as my dad dragged me on and on till like a bag of bad potatoes, he threw me out and I landed under the staircase leading to Mr. Robinson’s quarters!
I moaned in pain!
I couldn’t get myself anymore especially as I heard him banged the front door!
Asides Mr. Bode-Davies, my dad, I don’t think there has been anyone who has shown me the true meaning of love and life!
…he was showing me the meaning of cruelty and hatred also!
Could it be that easy to switch between evil and good, dad?
I wept the more as I held my tummy which tingled in pain.
I had not had any good breakfast since I came back from school during the midnight.
I was serving the rice and bean concoction with some coconut servings I had made before going for night class when my phone rang
“Guess it’s your dad” Happiness, my roommate announced
“Daddy ke! He can’t be the one jhur. Its past 11pm and he definitely would be sleeping now. I trust him” I said, my hands outstretched to get the phone from Happie…
But it was him!
Why would he be calling so late in the night?
“Hey dad, my sweet mirror, my…” I chanted on, happily, though shocked it was him
“I am in front of Amina Hall. Come down now” The cold voice had said and I was shocked
Never had my dad spoken in that manner before- not even when he was having a little quarrel with my mum!
I lost appetite immediately as my tummy started drumming some satirical notes
I ran downstairs almost immediately, draping a tight cap over the hair I had just recently made!
I looked around the hostel but couldn’t find him- then I sighted a familiar figure beside a car
“My dad has bought a car?” I asked myself as I hastened excitedly to his side.
I hugged him happily but he was cold
“Get into the car. We have to go somewhere tonight”
“Daddy, where?” I asked, so shocked as I checked out the simple silky shirt and skirt I was wearing
“There is no time to waste time! This car is 5000 naira for 1 hour and the hour is almost exhausted. Get in now!”
“But dad, why are you….” I was still saying, still not used to the coldness in his voice when he gave me the baddest look I had ever received
I smelt evil!
Quickly without any hesitation, I jumped into the car and he sped off like he was in a racing competition!
It was my worst ride ever!
It was piercingly silent!
I tried holding my breath so my dad wouldn’t feel offended by the sound of my wheezing breathing- another asthma fit was almost starting.
Well, he didn’t seem to care until I saw the direction where the car turned to!
“Is someone sick? Don’t worry about the asthma dad, I will be fine” I said as the wheezing increased
He stopped, a nurse came close to the car and helped me into the clinic- she was obviously not ready to answer my questions
I woke up at dawn- beside my father- in our compound- in that same car!
As my eyes cleared, I looked into his face carefully and wondered what caused the tears streaming down his hairy face.
And my dad must be in serious debt, seeing that we were still in the same borrowed car for hours!
“I saw you yesterday with Chris” He eventually spoke to me and I jumped up from my sleeping position, my eyes wide open, my ears standing erect!
That was the worst news ever from my dad!
He saw me!…Ah!
He must have seen me in that revealing jump suit I was wearing- oh gosh! And I wouldn’t have loved him to see me in that!
And oh the hairstyle was crazy!…Ah! He shouldn’t have seen me!
Then he saw me with Chris…someone every parents in church had warned their children not to walk with because he was into pop music, he had baby mamas and all of that!
How could daddy see me with Chris?
But what was he doing in Sheraton that day? Chai!
He dropped a paper on my laps and opened the car door and I watched as he staggered inside the house with a sorrow laden heart!
I opened the letter and another paper fell.
I picked it too.
I unfolded the first and my eyes caught it – Virginity Test, negative!
Tears ran down my face at this!
What could have drawn my dad to have me examined for virginity?
What could have caused the suspicion?
“My dad already knows…He knows….” I repeated as tears cascaded down my face.
I squeezed the two papers and hid inside my blouse- No one should see it!…No one!
I cried and cried to no avail till afternoon when I summoned courage to go and meet him inside, at least so he could go and return the car he had borrowed!
As it dawned on me that the secret I had so kept from my dad had eventually gotten to his ears and he had confirmed it himself, I shook with fear!
I had lied to him!
I had made him believe he had an angel for a daughter!
I had made him believe that I was so flawless!
I should have opened up to him!
I should have told him it was just with a guy and that it was just because I couldn’t control myself again!
I was madly in love!
When I got to school, I met Happiness who happened to be a ‘Big girl’ daughter of a popular model.
It was a fateful day while I sat down before the portal at the business centre after I had gone to pay my school fees to access the portal and click for accommodation.
I waited and waited until I learnt that all the rooms were occupied
I was frustrated!
How do I secure accommodation?
I heard some ladies jubilating over the fact that they eventually clicked rooms and my tummy flickered with envy!
Houses off campus were very expensive!
My dad was a full time pastor!
My sponsor, Dr. T. Donald, who happened to be my mum’s step brother seemed to be tired of taking up my responsibilities as he took over a month before he sent me my school fees despite having informed him about it five months back!
Who do I turn to now?
I rested my head on the table before me as the allocated time I had paid for to browse had been exhausted.
Something fell on my back and before I could turn to check what it was, this beautiful girl fell over me, knocking off the desktop before me with a thud!
She screamed and gathering momentum, though my back made some crack sounds, I helped her up, straighten her hair and picked the Iphone which had fallen on my back which she must have been guiding from falling.
“Thanks” She said so sweetly and I nodded as I helped her put her beautiful high-heeled shoes in place.
“Be careful with heels” I said and she nodded, pouting in a babyish manner
“Thanks big sis. I must have missed my steps” She said cooly
Did I look that old or was it because of the scarf I was tying?
Big sister to this biggie?…Nah!
The operators of the business centre came around to check the broken desktop and this biggie stood up sharply
“How much is the desktop? I will replace it. I am so sorry” She said hurriedly as she reached into her purse
Did the guys ask for a replacement?
What a spoilt, wasteful child!
“Excuse me sir. We are very sorry. She missed her steps. Please, forgive us. It was an accident” I tried to cover up her last statement and one of the men smiled, shaking his head
“You are well mannered! Girls like this spoilt one are nothing to worry about! They prefer to buy their ways in and out with money instead of saying a simple sorry!” One of the operators said and my biggie stood up to talk
“I just wanted to avoid embarrassment! I hate destroying things” she said with a shaky voice
“Well, even if it was a monster you met here, didn’t he see that it was an accident? Would it have been bad to say sorry? Wouldn’t even the monster have bulged?” Another operator charged at her and when she couldn’t hold it, she burst out crying.
I had to intervene, settled the whole matter and that was how we became friends!
She had secured a personal executive room in the hostel and gladly offered to take me in!
She introduced me to her Uncle too at the college of medicine, Physiotherapy, exactly my department and he had been of great help to me!
One day, as I weaved her hair into few corn rows after I had deep conditioned it for her, I remembered the big sis thing she said and laughed out
“What’s that?” She asked, looking at me from the mirror she was holding
“The first day you met me at the cafe, why did you call me big sis?” I asked and it was her chance to laugh out
Her laughter was so great that it sounded like the roaring of a lion as she beat her laps and coughed out loud and unrestrictedly!
I waited patiently till she landed and she wiped her tears off her face
“What is so funny?” I asked
“You really looked like a mama that day!” she said and a surge of embarrassment ran through my nerves
“What!” I exclaimed, almost irritatedly
“If not that we had lived together for a while and I had seen the real, young, milky you, I would still have called you big sis”
“How old her you?” I asked, trying hard to hide to embarrassment
“I will be 20 in June. And you?” she replied, her dimples deepened as she smiled
“I will be 18 in April” I replied and she jumped up, excitedly
“I am even the big sis!” She exclaimed and I frowned
“You see now?” I raised my nose at her and she knitted her brows into a frown too
“I see what? Can we go and ask a hundred people who looks older between us? A ninety nine and one people would choose you!” She said and I was covered up with heat that instant!
She moved to the rack where I hung my bag, she threw it down, then my only shoe too was thrown down!
She moved closed to me and tugged at the cap covering my hair
“Thank God you are bringing this up now Tally! Thank God! That is no bag, even my nanny at home doesn’t use that crap to take food home to her dogs! And that pair of shoe?…So, people really do have one pair? Really! I wouldn’t give that to Missy, my cat! And this cap you use in covering your head every time as if you had just come out of widowhood, oh my, it’s old! It’s odd! It’s weird! It’s crap!” She said as if she was rioting over the unpaid salary of her close pal and I could only watch on
“Well, I know good things too and I would love them but my dad can’t afford it! My dad is a pastor! He is a full time pastor!” I said as tears tried to invade the territory of my eyes but I fought them
Never had I regretted my dad’s occupation till that time!
Till when I looked at what I was wearing really and my mum’s old bag and all I had and I spited them all as rags!
“See, I will take you out for shopping tomorrow and I will choose what fits you! You are a princess and you should dress in the regalia of a princess!” she said with authority and seeing a sponsor from the blues, who was I to say no?
I jumped at the offer and off we travelled to Ceddi Plaza, in Uncle Jeff’s car…Oh my!…Riches at the highest level!
“This is just a small mall compared to others we have in Nigeria” Happiness said and I looked on, dumbfounded
The day was fun-filled especially with Uncle Jeff around. He cracked us up with different jokes and bought us very nicely flavoured ice-cream
I had never tasted Ice-cream before though I had grown up enjoying the cheap ten naira cone filled sugar surnamed ice-cream!
When it was time to choose clothes, there was war as I kept saying no to all the clothes she selected for me!
She was mad as she left me in the dressing room to report to her uncle. I joined them and Uncle Jeff encouraged me to wear one and come to show him so he could tell me how it looked.
As he lifted his eyes to survey me from head to toes in a very short, revealing but classy gown, his face broke out into a large wow!
“You look gorgeous! You look like a royal damsel! You look….” He kept on saying when Happiness covered his mouth
“I hope it is not like you have fallen for my friend.”
“I guess I have” He said, covering his face and Happiness laughed
“Don’t mind him. We have told him severally to go and get married o but he is doing fine boy around” She said and I smiled
“But, I guess I am in love now” He said and excitedly, Happiness pulled at his arm
“Tell me about it. I promise not to tell anyone, not Aunty Tessie, Not my mum, it will be a secret!” she said, excitedly
As he bent to whisper in her ears, all the parts of me heard, though whispered, very loudly in my ears- Talitha!
My whole body stood at this junction!
This well certified, handsome, young, medical personnel and lecturer is in love with me? Poor me?
He winked at me and all didn’t matter anymore!
My heart gave in straight away!
I fell in love too!
That was the beginning of our relationship, although we kept it a secret from Happiness for a while because she felt I was too young for her thirty one year old uncle.
I would spend long hours in his office, we would gist and go on dates, he bought me more fanciful things and gave me rides round the school, he made me feel a kind of love, very very different from the one my dad and I shared!
His touches sent signals into my head that scatters the arrangement of flesh, blood and bones up there!
His smiles too were killing!
I remembered that I should keep myself until marriage and should not get myself defiled along the way but what could I do when my flesh wouldn’t agree with me?
I was just too close to him for nothing not to happen!
It was a Valentine’s day and I visited his Garki Apartment- He was glad to see me really and I was glad to see him too, in a relaxed, tee shirt manner instead of suits all the time!
As he presented a chocolate cake before me, my heart longed for him. My heart longed to be wrapped round him and feeling so bad that I could not reciprocate his gifts, though I got him some cufflinks and ties, I started to warm up against him and though he tried to pull away, I pushed nearer to him till he couldn’t hold it anymore
“Tally darling, I love you so much that I would also want you in my arms. That’s how I feel too but you, are you sure about this?” He asked, pulling away
“Yes I am sure. Take me to bed!” I said, coarsely, my real voice submerged in lust!
And that was it!
After the body to body encounter, I wanted more and more of him though he never gave me again!
“Talitha, I feel ashamed to have pulled such an innocent lady into this mess. You were a virgin Tally! I feel shameful to have cheated a young girl like you. Forgive me!” He went on his knees to say sorry to me and I still stood up to hug him.
He pulled away and tried to cover me up
“Talitha, I vow not to touch you ever again until I take you to the altar! Please, don’t let’s do this again. Please” he begged and that was when my sanity returned a bit
That was the only one time I had sexual intercourse!
I was with Chris the day before at Sheraton Hotel but we were there for a departmental assignment not for anything!
Could I even afford it?
“Talitha, what are you doing under the staircase?”
I heard that voice and knew it was Mr. Robinson, our american neighbor and church member.
I tried to sit down from the sleeping position I had met myself, my face dry from my tear stains.
“Is your dad in?” He asked and I knew what was next.
I quickly jumped up to pull Mr. Robinson back from knocking at our door.
My buttocks hurt from the nail injection earlier and I leaped forward and fell
“Hey, sorry darling. You don’t want your dad to know about you? You don’t look good” He said again and I shook my head
“I offended him. He is still mad at me. Calling him now will worsen matters” I said as he tried to pull me up
“Oh! Why not try The Fakunle’s house then?” He asked and I nodded
That was just the best place to go and hide my head!
Mrs. Fakunle was my mum’s very best friend from childhood till she died- she was even my mum’s Chief Bridesmaid!
We had been family friends and they lived across the street.
“Can I drop you off?” Mr. Robinson asked and I shook my head!
“Never mind, Mr. Robinson. I will be fine” I said as I dragged myself down to the gate and off the street
I couldn’t bring myself to believe that my dad had thrown me outside our home- the two room Boys’ Quarters where we had lived for ten years after mum died.
“My dad threw me out?” I asked myself continually even as my voice competed with my uncontrollable sobs
“Just sit down outside while Sofia clears the store for you or can you manage to sleep on a mat on the Veranda?” Mrs. Fakunle asked and I couldn’t believe my ears
“But mom, why can’t she share my room? She always does when she visits” Sofia said to her and the look her mum gave her sent her running up the stairs
“Just stay outside. I will tell you when to come in Talitha” She repeated and I gently went outside as tears rose up from my tummy and poured out through my eyes and nose and mouth!
First, it was my dad calling me child instead of Queen Talitha and now this beloved mummy of mine who would lovingly call me Princess Tally threw my name in my face!
Why am I being treated badly?
Why is everyone pushing me away?
As I fell over the stool, something pushed against my chest and I remembered the papers I had squeezed and hid there
I sat on the floor dejectedly and heard some footsteps from inside
“See her! She is sitting on the floor. See her now!” I heard Sammy and Bright, Sofia’s sisters arguing at the window side from inside
It was disheartening!
These were children that would have ran to hold me, admired my long hair and asked that I gist them about school life but immediately they sighted me, they just ran inside as if I was a plague!
My heart bled!
What exactly was my sin?
Or did I have poo smeared across my face?
Daddy is angry that I wasn’t a virgin though I had pretended to be one- that’s justifiable to an extent
But what do these people know?
Why were they treating me like shit?
What could I have done wrong?
Why couldn’t I sleep in the same room with the friend of mine whose room I had always shared?
“Devotion time is 5am tomorrow. When the bell is rung, come downstairs. You can go to the store now, it is cleared. Pass the back door. Here’s the key. Goodnight” Mrs. Fakunle said as she threw the key at me
As I looked at the key, I felt like dying!
The cry that was about to elope my mouth would be so disastrous, so I stuffed the papers in my mouth to avoid the sound while tears cascaded my face, my heart peppered with pain!
Watch out for 2
WRITTEN BY OYEKUNLE LIZZY OYEBOLA